Key runners return for HV cross-country

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The Happy Valley Warriors are gearing up to make a run toward the top in the conference this season, as their cross-country team features a couple of athletes that are expected to battle in the state finals.
   Coach Don Verran seems to think they will be competitive this season despite losing several runners from last year's boys team.
   The Warriors finished third overall last year, but their shining star, David Hughes, will attempt to make his fourth appearance in a state meet.
   "We've got David Hughes back, and he's a pretty tough, but we're missing a lot of key boys due to graduation," said Verran.
   Hughes finished in the runner-up position in the state meet, but hopefully his chances improve due to last year's winner graduating.
   "The Weaver boy that David ran against from Franklin Road Academy is gone this year, and that's a blessing. He's ran with him for the last four years," said Verran.
   Verran says he's looking forward to his freshman class, and thinks that they can give some assistance to the team.
   "I do think we have a good freshman team coming in, and some of them have said they have been running all summer, so I think they can help us," said Verran.
   Their will definitely be some gaps to fill, but the Warriors are generally strong in the distance.
   The girls team probably wasn't quite as strong as the boys were last season, but look for them to improve. Most of the girls will be returning.
   "We got most of the girls back except for Lauren Hollowell, and that's a big loss," said Verran.
   Two runners making a return this season that will have an impact are Katie Williams and Kortney Goulds.
   "Katie is back and Kortney is returning from an injury she received, so if we can come together and get more people, we should have a pretty fair team," said Verran.
   Williams finished third in the state last year, and with the experience it should help out.
   "Katie and Kortney have both gone before, and right now we don't know who else will have a chance," said Verran.
   Verran says his girls squad should drastically improve from last year, but you don't know until you see what everyone else has.
   The Warriors have had limited practice due to the weather and school getting started late, so they're a little unsure of what to expect right yet.
   "It's just one of those seasons where you have to set back and wait to see what happens, because anything could happen during the course of the running," said Verran.
   One thing for certain though, and that's if Hughes, Williams and Goulds can all stay healthy, then more than likely they will be at the top of the class.
   Both Hughes and Williams have been running in AAU, where each of them ended up competing in the nationals.
   "David made it to the nationals in the 5,000 and two-mile relay, and then Katie made it to the nationals in the two-mile relay -- and that's pretty impressive," said Verran.
   Happy Valley is scheduled to compete in its first meet on the 27th of this month over at the V.A. with University High, and a couple of other schools.
   "Hopefully we will go as a team to the state this year -- we do have some potential on our team," says Verran.